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Poster: Lou Davenport Date: Apr 23, 2007 7:55pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

It appears I'm in question-asking mood. Actually, I've been mulling this one over for a while...

I love the varying "sound" Jerry gets out of his guitar--particular in the 76-78 period. I don't have any experience with guitar effects boxes, so the answer to my question may be obvious. But it sounds to me like the fundamental pitches of the notes he's playing is distorted/modified by being combined with one or more other pitches that are kept constant, so different timbres are produced at different pitches. On lower notes, there's a doingy sound, then maximum distortion somewhere in the mid-treble range, then clearer tones above some threshold. On tunes like Dancin' and NFA, he further distorts this basic sound, but it's the less distorted version that interests me.

The 10-9-76 and 10-10-76 run on DP33 is a great example of the sound, as it's consistent throughout so you can hear its various forms. And May 77 is probably where it reaches its height of perfection.

Anyway, does someone with experience with this sort of thing know how he produced his sound, and what he was altering to change it from 76 to early 77 to late 77 to 78? In the Feb 78 shows on DP18, the distortion is over-the-top, producing an unpleasant sour sound--but still based on the same sonic principle, so far as I can tell. Is this a simple effects box or something more sophisticated that he came up with?

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Poster: tree-ap Date: Apr 24, 2007 6:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

Well, it doesn't seem anyone else is going to try and answer so I guess I will. All instruments have their own sound. Many guitarists swear by the '50s & '60s Les Pauls and the sound they are able to generate. Many of us can tell you exactly what guitar Jerry is playing just by it's sound--The Gibson, Strat, Wolf, the Travis Bean guitar, Tiger, Rosebud, etc. The Travis Bean is what he was playing at the Day on the Green shows from 10/9 & 10/10/76. This guitar had an aluminum (aluminium if your from the UK) neck which affected the sound greatly. Now, your ARE able to produce the sound of other guitars with the various gadgets & gizmos that have been available for a long, long time. Phil's bass in '74 was able to "copy" the sound of other basses due to the varying electronics used to build it. But there are other factors as well. The amps being used, the acoustics of the venue, the weather (heat, humidity, air pressure), all affect the sound of an instrument to one degree or another. So I guess to answer your question, it's a matter of technology & context that will affect/produce certain sounds.

Personally, I prefer the "sound" of Wolf from '73-'74---but ALL of Jerry's guitars sounded great with him playing, didn't they?

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Poster: BryanE Date: Apr 24, 2007 8:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

I would add to the replies from tree-ap and Earl B. Powell that Garcia had a pretty nimble left hand working the neck of his guitars and was, quite simply, an enormously talented musician who practiced incessantly. That quivering mentioned by Earl was a big part of that nimbleness.

He taught himself how to play, so much of his technique was developed by trying to reproduce licks from Chuck Berry records and the like, as well as the style of leads and fingerpicking he and his grandmother heard while listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts on Saturday nights. I don't know if he became aware of that Buck Owens guitarist during those Opry shows, but the Bakersfield sound was a big part of his arsenal. When he was first figuring out how to do it, he would actually flip the RPM switch on his record player to its lowest setting so he could learn and then copy guitar solos note for note. Actually he didn't even know how to tune his guitar when he started, and plunked away for a while with an open tuning that seemed to sound okay. When he learned the standard E A D G B E, he had to start all over from the beginning, which utimately contributed to the fact that, while his style derived so much from that of other players, none of his contemporaries sounded like him because nobody else went through the regiment of training he did. The Jerry Garcia School of Electric Guitar was founded on a curriculum that existed only unto itself.

He messed around a little bit with a wah pedal as he began availing himself to effects gadgets as he got older. Look for Greatest Story Ever Told from the Kesey's Farm gig in the early '70's as an example. But when he discovered the envelope filter, which produced a similar, but preferable sound for him, the trademark Garcia wah became established and can be heard in Estimated Prophet and countless marathon jams before and after. It was easier to use, too, making that murky, weird Jerry sound automatically without his having to wear out an ankle pumping that old-fashioned wah-wah pedal. Later on, he developed a real fondness for MIDI capabilities, putting a whole bunch of interesting sounds at his disposal.

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Apr 24, 2007 9:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

Lou: The Dozin site gives a lot of information, but the bottom line is that Garcia had a "signature" sound that came through regardless of the rig he was using. The period you are talking about though was when he used a Travis Bean guitar with an aluminum neck and I believe P-90 single coil pickups> Fender Twin Reverb preamp section> McIntosh 3500 power amp> JBL 12" speakers. In addition he liked using a wah pedal and a mutron envelope filter.

Garcia credited one of Buck Owens guitar players as a primary influence on his guitar style and that incorporated a lot of the lower string bass notes he was so fond of playing. He also said that rather than having an angled attack on the fret board, his approach was to have his fingertips contact the string at near a 90 degree angle, resulting a a very clean sounding note.

Another thing that I noticed, especially after '74 was that Garcia's left hand quivered, almost like he had Parkinsons. I'm really not sure that this had anything at all to do with the tonal qualities of his play, but have have added some kind of natural vibrato to the mix.

Later on Garcia claimed that he did not really like the TB1000, that the neck was "cold." For me it's kind of hard to argue with the guitar that pumped out the tours of 77. (This guitar is up for sale at the estate auction of RamRod on May 8th, estimated to bring 250-350K)

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Poster: caspersvapors Date: Apr 24, 2007 10:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

the TB-1000 thats up for auction is not what Garcia used in 77, the 1000 was used from 75-76 which is why his tone is a lot different once you head into 77 where he used a TB-500 that had 3 single coils.

This is his 77 tb500

http://www.maverick-music.com/scripts/vintage-guitars.asp?idproduct=1342

that said Tb500s are extremely sought after and very rare, Ive seen tb1000's going for like 2000-2500 bucks though


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Poster: tigerbolt Date: Apr 23, 2007 8:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

http://dozin.com/jers/guitars.html# click on a guitar and it will give info on various amps,effects etc..

This post was modified by tigerbolt on 2007-04-24 03:27:54

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Poster: Chris Freedom Date: Apr 23, 2007 8:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: How did Jerry produce his guitar sound?

Damn Tiger

Ask and you shall receive!